Ethics Committee Issues Advice about Out-of-State Employment by Retired Judge
The California Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions (CJEO) has issued an expedited opinion addressing whether it is permissible for a retired judicial officer who participates in California’s temporary assigned judges program to take a position as the government affairs director reporting to the attorney general of another state.
In CJEO Expedited Opinion 2023-051, the committee advises it would be improper for a retired judge to take an out-of-state position as a government affairs director while serving in the temporary assigned judges program. The government affairs director would report directly to that state’s attorney general and would act as a liaison between the state’s attorney general, the legislature, and other government officers. The position would also include providing legal advice and reviewing and drafting legal opinions. This constitutes the practice of law, which is impermissible under the Code of Judicial Ethics.
Judges are permitted and even encouraged to take part in extrajudicial activities, especially where the activity is aimed at the improvement of the legal system. However, judicial officers are prohibited from practicing law, and this applies to both active judges and retired judges serving in the temporary assigned judges program,” said committee chair committee chair Justice Ronald B. Robie.
CJEO issues expedited opinions to judicial officers who request them, following a discretionary decision by CJEO to address the ethical issues raised in an expedited process that does not include posting draft opinions for public comment (as isrequired for CJEO formal opinions). CJEO expedited opinions are published in full, without identifying information regarding the requesting judicial officer, to provide information and analysis to the bench and the public regarding judicial ethics.
About the Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions (CJEO)
The Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions is a 12-member advisory committee that includes appellate justices, trial court judges, two retired judges, and a commissioner. The committee is appointed and authorized by the California Supreme Court, but its work is independent of the court, the Judicial Council, and all other entities. Its opinions are advisory and do not necessarily reflect the views of the California Supreme Court or any other entity.
The committee issues formal, informal, and expedited advisory opinions on proper judicial conduct pursuant to the California Code of Judicial Ethics and other authorities. CJEO’s website includes advisory opinions, resources dedicated to specific judicial assignments and issues, and extensive judicial ethics tools and resource materials for the benefit of the bench and the public.